WHITEHALL, Ohio — High school seniors at Whitehall-Yearling High School are getting a jumpstart not just on potential careers, but on their journey to economic mobility and self-sufficiency.

What You Need To Know

  • In the current program, there are 16 students 
  • The goal is to help students and their families succeed

  • Students in the program said they’ve learned to appreciate employees in the retail and customer service industry more

They are going through classes created through a partnership between Whitehall City Schools, the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, and Goodwill Columbus.

As students progress through classes geared toward helping them earn credentials, it counts as points toward their graduation requirements. While the Rise Up Retail and Rise Up Customer Service programs help students who did not pass end-of-year exams or were transient, it also helps students who just want to get a head start on their careers. 

“This credential program shows them… if you want to go into employment, and you want to go into a field of customer service and retailing, there's so much more," said Jocelyn Thomas, the school's guidance counselor.

That’s more opportunities to work in other areas besides fast food or in a mall.

“They can do much more in-depth complex things with this industry credential," said Jenifer Garey, Director of Workforce Development at Goodwill Columbus. “They can receive the same services that the high school students are receiving. So we're not only able to help the student in the moment, we're able to help the entire family get on a different path.”

So far, students like Kashmier Hill have not only learned a lot, but have seen changes in perspective. Hill said now, he understands how important it is to get to know people and talk to people because you never know what kind of day someone may be having.

“It made me care more about people’s feelings," Hill said.

Abigail Espinoza said the program has reinforced what she’s already learned in her current retail job. She, too, has learned to appreciate employees in both fields wherever she goes.

“My eyes are more open to what to expect when I go out into the real world," Espinoza said.

Espinoza wants to go into the tech field and put her skills to use, while Hill wants to apply his knowledge in the area of criminal justice once he finishes college.